See? See? That's what you'll get! I meant that!
~ Jack after Roger killed Piggy

Jack Merridew is the main antagonist in William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. He is one of the leaders of the band of boys who get stranded on the island, the other being Ralph. His right hand man and best friend is Roger, who is even more dangerous than he is. Jack's main ambition on the island is to hunt, even trying to explain that this was an excuse to pass up an opportunity to be rescued by an airplane in both film adaptations. Because Ralph wouldn't stop arguing with Jack over the missed chance of getting rescued by a passing airplane to go home, Jack decided to start his own tribe separated from Ralph, which he rules in a extremist and fascist fashion. He quickly gains support when a demonic animal named The Beast roams the jungle and threatens the other boys.

He was portrayed by Tom Chapin in the 1963 film adaptation and by Chris Furrh in the 1990 adaptation.

Events of the story

Jack Merridew

Jack in the 1990 film

As all the children, save from Ralph, Piggy, Simon, and the twins, gradually regress to a savage state, Jack becomes one of the most violent, aggressive and dangerous of them. He orders a separate tribe from Ralph who emphasizes on working to build shelters, but the children become interested in hunting except for Ralph's tribe, and Ralph was unable to satisfy them to the conditions of the island. His group becomes them increasingly violent towards Ralph's, intimidating most of the kids to side with him. The situation degenerates to a war, culminating in Piggy's murder and the whole island being set on fire to kill Ralph. Fortunately, the fire attracts the attention of a boat of the navy, rescuing the children right when they were about to finish Ralph off. This is unknown what happened to the boys afterwards. It is assumed that Ralph will tell the truth to the people who come to save them, which can result in Jack and his gang being sent to juvenile detention center for their punishment and physiological treatment.


"Inside the floating cloak he was tall, thin, and bony; and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger."

- Excerpt describing Jack's appearance from The Lord of the Flies


Jack is shown at first to be very cocky, haughty, vituperative, and demanding, displaying an open hostility towards Ralph and contempt towards the other children.

Jack emits a vibe unlike any other character in the story. He shows signs of being dangerously bipolar, acting astute and honorable right after the crash, speaking properly with a tone of voice similar to that of an adult's, but it is through the downward spiral and the death of civilization on the island that Jack shows his other, and disturbingly more savage side. He is the main reason that Simon and Piggy died, and he nearly killed Ralph.


Jack's role in the novel is an allegory to human nature. Jack represents mankind's unbridled savagery, and the desire for power. Golding's allegory to the character (about human nature) was based on what he saw when he went to war.